Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for South Korea on the TravelHealthPro website
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Korean Air and Asiana are running direct flights from London to Seoul.
There are no restrictions based on nationality and visa type for regularly scheduled flights, but such restrictions remain in place for some specially organised (or “unscheduled”) flights. Flights which Korean Air and Asiana operate from London to Seoul outside of their regularly scheduled flights will be subject to these restrictions. Such “unscheduled” flights are not common, but may be offered by airlines at times of high demand.
Some airline and most third-party ticket booking websites do not highlight in the booking process which flights have nationality or visa restrictions. If you have booked onto a flight you are not eligible to take, your airline will usually try to contact you a few days beforehand to move you to a different one. The best way to check that you will be eligible to take your desired flight is to contact your airline to confirm before booking. Passengers who are ineligible to take a flight may be refused check-in even if they have purchased a ticket. Further information on Korean Air flight restrictions can be found on their COVID-19 Flight Status page.
You should remain aware of the quarantine requirements on entry. See Entry requirements.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in South Korea.
Returning to the UK
Travelling from and returning to the UK
Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting. If you will pass through a red list country, book your hotel quarantine package before travelling to the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test if you are required to provide one before travel in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities. Tests are also available at Incheon Airport’s COVID-19 Testing Center. Test results can be issued in English from the Incheon Airport COVID-19 Testing Center and from some private hospitals.
Not all vaccines administered in South Korea are necessarily recognised for the purpose of entering England, Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland. You should check the list of recognised vaccines for your destination via the link above.
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to enter a quarantine facility or hospital until you test negative. This could cause a significant delay to your travel plans. See Testing positive for COVID-19 below.
If you are travelling to South Korea, plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access enough money to cover unexpected COVID-19-related costs
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Testing positive for COVID-19
If you think you might have COVID-19 while in South Korea, you should self-isolate immediately and contact the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on 1339 for guidance (support is available in English). Outdoor sites where you can receive a free test are common in most cities. If you are eligible to receive a PCR test, you will usually receive your results via text message within 1-2 days. If you are not eligible to receive a PCR test, you will receive an antigen test which provides results within approximately 30 minutes.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you must comply with self-quarantine and treatment instructions issued by the Korean authorities. The Korean authorities have made clear that if you have no or mild symptoms you will generally be eligible for quarantine and treatment at home, unless you are unable to sufficiently isolate from others. If the Korean authorities judge it necessary, you will be moved to a quarantine centre or a hospital/treatment centre. There is currently no charge for quarantine centre stays or for medical care in a hospital/treatment centre as long as you have not violated any quarantine measures. Fully vaccinated individuals will generally need to quarantine (whether at home or in a facility) for seven days. Korean health authorities generally have broad discretion to apply the rules as they see fit. You may face additional costs from your travel provider if you have to rearrange your travel.
Anyone displaying symptoms or returning a positive test result for COVID-19 must comply with self-quarantine and treatment instructions issued by the Korean authorities. Failure to do so could result in imprisonment, deportation, the revocation of visas or residence permits and an entry ban, and you may be held liable for the cost of your treatment and for any economic losses incurred by further transmission of the virus. The Ministry of Justice has made clear that this policy applies to foreign residents as well as short-term visitors.
Public spaces and services
Face masks are compulsory in public places and on public transport. Failure to wear a mask can result in a fine of up to 100,000 Korean Won (£62).
For full details of the current restrictions and requirements you should check the South Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) and Ministry of Health and Welfare websites (English). You can find information on any local variations in COVID-19 restrictions and requirements on metropolitan and provincial government websites as follows:
- Seoul Metropolitan government
- Busan Metropolitan City
- Daegu Metropolitan City
- Incheon Metropolitan City
- Gwangju City
- Daejeon Metropolitan City
- Ulsan Metropolitan City
- Sejong City
- North Chungcheong
- South Chungcheong
- North Gyeongsan
- South Gyeongsang
- North Jeolla
- South Jeolla
Healthcare in South Korea
Make sure you have up to date, comprehensive health insurance.
Visit our overview of medical treatment in South Korea.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health
View Health for further details on healthcare in South Korea.
The Seoul Municipal Government website (English) also provides a list of the COVID-19 screening facilities in the Seoul city area.
If you are in South Korea, you can dial 1339 for the South Korean authorities’ telephone helpline that provides information in English regarding COVID-19 issues.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in South Korea
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of South Korea announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The South Korean national vaccination programme started in February 2021 and is using the AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Novavax vaccines. British nationals resident in South Korea are eligible for vaccination.
All adults (including pregnant women) in South Korea have now been given the opportunity to book a vaccination, as have children aged 12 to 17. Appointments to receive booster shots are available for those aged 18 and over, with the exact timing depending on your age, profession, medical status and time since completing your earlier vaccination. Registration windows for different groups to book vaccinations are open at different times. Not all groups are always able to make reservations. Some age groups and professions continue to be given priority. You should visit the KDCA website or contact the KDCA by phone from South Korea on 1339 (English language support is available) for advice on how to book your vaccination.
If you have been vaccinated outside of the South Korean vaccination system, you can register your vaccination details with the South Korean authorities by bringing your Quarantine Exemption Certificate or your ID and proof of vaccination to a local Community Health Centre. This will enable you to demonstrate your vaccination status (see ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status in South Korea’ below) and to receive booster shots. You can only register your vaccination details in this way if you have received a vaccine approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). (All vaccines in use in the UK have been approved by the WHO.) For further details, you should contact the KDCA by phone from South Korea on 1339 (English language support is available) for advice.
If you are eligible to be vaccinated, in addition to booking vaccination appointments via the KDCA you may be able to book an appointment at short notice to receive a “leftover vaccine”. This is a vaccine dose that was not administered because the intended recipient did not attend their vaccination appointment. Foreign nationals who belong to the Korean national health insurance scheme can use this service. “Leftover vaccine” appointments can be booked through the KakaoTalk and Naver apps (in Korean), on a first-come-first-served basis. You should look for guidance on this process (in Korean) inside the apps themselves or on the KakaoTalk and Naver websites.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad page.
If you’re a British national living in South Korea, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status in South Korea
You can demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status in South Korea using the COOV app on your smartphone (if you have a Korean SIM card) or using an equivalent paper certificate issued by a Korean Community Health Centre. Your vaccine pass will only be valid for six months from your most recent dose of vaccine.
If you were vaccinated outside South Korea and recently entered Korea using a Quarantine Exemption Certificate issued by a Korean Embassy overseas (see Entry requirements), you can take your Quarantine Exemption Certificate to your local Community Health Centre to register your vaccination and then can use the COOV app (if you have a Korean SIM card) and receive the paper certificate.
If you were vaccinated outside of South Korea but do not have a Quarantine Exemption Certificate, you should bring your ID and proof of vaccination to your local Community Health Centre to register your vaccination; you can then use the COOV app (if you have a Korean SIM card) and receive the paper certificate. Local Community Health Centres will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record for this purpose. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.
You can also contact the KDCA by phone from South Korea on 1339 (English language support is available) for advice on how to register your vaccination details.
The UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record is not officially accepted inside South Korea for purposes other than registering your vaccination with the Korean authorities.
Help and support
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Further advice and details on confirmed cases can be found on the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare website in English and Korean. South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) also provides daily updates in English and in Korean.